Pale Lager

Pale lagers are the standard international beer style, as personified by products from Miller to Heineken. This style is the generic spinoff of the pilsner style. Pale lagers are generally light- to medium-bodied with a light-to-medium hop impression and a clean, crisp malt character. Quality, from a flavor point of view, is very variable within this style, and many examples use a proportion of non-malt additives such as rice or corn. Alcohol content is typically between 3.5-5 percent ABV, with the upper end of the range being preferable if one is to get a true lager mouthfeel.

Malt Liquor

This category is legally mandated in states where any lager stronger than 5 percent alcohol by volume cannot call itself a lager beer. There are a number of commercial brands that have been created to fill this category, many of which do not have great merit from the connoisseur’s perspective. Many malt liquors achieve their greater alcoholic strength through the use of adjunct grains—corn or rice—that add little flavor. Some strong European lagers are forced to adopt this labeling moniker for the U.S. market.


This is a subcategory of the bock style. Doppelbocks are extra strong, rich and weighty lagers characterized by an intense malty sweetness with a note of hop bitterness to balance the sweetness. Color can vary from full amber to dark brown, and alcohol levels are potently high, typically 7-8 percent ABV. Doppelbocks were first brewed in the 17th century by the Paulaner monks in Munich. At the time, it was intended to be consumed as “liquid bread” during Lent. Most Bavarian examples end in thesuffix “–ator,” in deference to the first commercial example, which was named Salvator (savior) by the Paulaner brewers.

How They Survive Today

Anchor Brewing San Francisco Founded: 1896 Current rank: 32 How it survived Prohibition: Shut down for duration. How it survives

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